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Music Review: The Dears – Missiles

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Sometimes magnificence springs out of tumult. Such is the case with Missiles, the fourth studio album from The Dears. The record is due out on October 21, 2008.

The Montreal indie rockers have always had a pretty fluid line-up, collecting touring members and new mates across the span of the band’s career. Often charted as being one of the leading voices of the Canadian indie rock revolution, Murray Lightburn’s troupe has had an inspiring career speckled with stellar albums and a celebrated live show.

Regardless of the comings and goings behind Missiles and the band, now down to a duo until a touring group is brought in, the record is abundant and generous as fans of the indie gods have come to expect.

Along with departing members and internal strife, Lightburn had some difficulty tracking down a label suitable to release the record. It was actually completed in April, he told UK’s The Guardian. The band did consider releasing the album themselves, but decided against it. With relationships with Arts and Crafts and Bella Union having run their respective courses, The Dears settled on small California label Dangerbird Records. It’s a nice fit, as Dangerbird houses other indie stalwarts like Silversun Pickups.

The follow-up to 2006’s Gang of Losers is an expansive, spacious album swelling with blues influences and a whole lot of symphonic goodness. But it carries with it a sort of unclothed appeal, as many of the arrangements are laid bare and almost resemble rock songs.

Take “Crisis I & II,” for instance. Keyboardist Natalia Yanchak and Lightburn split vocals, forming a beautiful meeting of the minds over a swaying, sensual background. It really is a simple rock tune, but the arrangement and the coursing instrumentation give the song a sense of depth and dignity.

So it is with Missiles, as the music is constructed with multiple layers of intricacy and effectiveness. The album was recorded swiftly, with passion and fervour, to allow the tracks time to settle into the bottom of the glass.

“Demons” takes numerous layers of synthesizer and plays them off of one another as Lightburn repeats that he “ain’t that stupid.” The track is pert and deliberate, moving ahead at a proud step with alluring guitar accents.

The album opens with an anthemic, almost beatific note. “Disclaimer” features horns, a swell of synth sound, and a steady guitar playing with precision through an exciting introduction that conjures memories of U2. And the over-11-minute “Saviour” is an organ-led jam that bulges and bursts with heart and passion to close out the record.

Other songs build on a string-and-piano pedestal (“Dream Job”), while others unfold with gorgeous melancholy (“Meltdown in A Major”).

Overall, Missiles is a gorgeous indie rock record. Made out of the ashes of mystification and pandemonium, Lightburn, Yanchak, and a cast of seven “rentals” have crafted a vigilant, affectionate piece.

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